Our Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread…” (Matt 6:11)

Flat Breads
When I was a kid, I could tell when my mom was baking from halfway down the block. Even today, the smell of goodies fresh from the oven evokes a certain sense of comfort, abundance, blessing and love. There’s just something about bread that speaks to the human psyche. It’s something we share with each other in the spirit of fellowship, something for which many people around the world will stand in line for hours hoping to get, and something we long for in our daily lives.

Sometimes, we are forgetful about how lucky we are to have “daily bread” in our lives and how thoroughly God provides for us. I’m reminded of Exodus 16, which tells the story of the manna, and how the Israelites, who had been liberated from their oppression for just a little over 2 months, began grumbling and complaining. All they could think about was food, not how they had been miraculously saved from oppression, but how hungry they were, even telling themselves how much better it was in Egypt, because there, at least, they had their “daily bread.”

The Israelites were indeed hungry, and in a way that went far beyond their physical need for food, they just didn’t know it. Daily bread is more than mere sustenance. It’s a yearning to recover what was lost at the fall of Eden, an unconscious desire to hear the voice of God. In Matthew 4, after he had fasted for forty days, Christ was confronted by the “tempter,” who said, “If you are the son of God, order these stones to become bread.” Jesus replies by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, stating, “it is written, that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Today, we’re not so unlike the Israelites of Moses’ day. We, too, are hungry, to the point of starving. We pine for our youth, for that time when every word from the mouth of God seemed far simpler to believe, and far less complicated to hear. We search for it in churches that seem to be more like social clubs, than sacred spaces to “tabernacle” with the Lord. We listen to preachers who are more interested in teaching us “political correctness” rather than God’s righteousness. When we pray for daily bread, we’re asking God to provide us with more than a marble rye to fill our bellies, or a good story with some anecdotal truth attached, we’re asking Him to fill us with the everlasting bread of His holy spirit, His presence in our daily lives so that we may be counted among the blessed.

How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! For they will be filled. (Matt 5:6)

~SLM

The Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

Funny how we can surround ourselves with beauty in an environment of quietude with the right Feng Shui and all, and yet have no real peace, our minds racing at 100 miles per hour or more, our thoughts spinning out of control, weighing on us with the gravity of a black hole. Our inner selves are incongruent with the carefully created façade of peace. Many times, we claim that all we want is peace, but then we go about creating turmoil and discord by our selfish actions or careless attitude of entitlement.

It’s hard to find peace, when we sit in judgement of others, yet for some reason, we seem to try our damnedest to achieve personal peace in this manner. We think if we can point out to ourselves just how awful others are in comparison to us, we will find peace of mind. “At least I’m not like ________, and I don’t _______,” we say to ourselves to ease our discomfort, settle our minds, continually filling in the blanks, but, in reality, this type of worrisome anxiety only exacerbates the problem, it gives us everything but peace.

Peace does not come through this kind of thinking, nor does it come to us through spending time in a “peaceful” room or setting. It comes through faith, though trust in the power of providence, the power of God who works all things to the benefit of those who love him. After his death, when Christ first appeared to his disciples, he knew their minds were troubled by the trauma of what they had witnessed, by the thought of carrying on without him, by the astonishing news of the empty tomb and their unwillingness to believe. He offered them peace.

Peace is a spiritual concept, it comes from trusting in God’s sprit to take care of us, to fill us, it’s about finding that place in our inner being, where no matter how the storms of life rage about us, we are calm, assured, serene, knowing that we can just let go and be held in His embrace, in His love and care. A peacemaker is one who understands that it is God’s Holy Spirit which is the cause of true peace, and he who demonstrates this profound understanding of God’s love for us and fosters the same in his fellow man.

So, who exactly are the “peacemakers” and how do we identify them? What are peacemakers made of that they should be called God’s children? They are not always the “middle” children, the ones who can see the qualities we all share, that we all have in common, traits like love and acceptance, belonging and understanding, as psychologists would have us believe. They are not always the diplomats, the ones who encourage ceasefires and so-called peace treaties, as politicians would have us believe.  But, peacemakers are those who foster compassion, trust and understanding, the ones who show others, helping them achieve peace of mind.

Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 GNB

~SLM